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Blue Monday: is a lack of sleep getting you down?
Health

Blue Monday: is a lack of sleep getting you down?

Woman sleeping at home in her bed

Today, Monday January 18, has been dubbed ‘Blue Monday’ – the most depressing day of the year.

Why so dreary? Apparently, it’s a combination of weather conditions, failed resolutions and financial woes that contributes to the general atmosphere of doom and gloom on this day. However, there’s one factor linked to depression which is often overlooked, and that’s simply the amount (or lack of) zzz’s we get every night.

We asked Professor Colin Espie, world sleep expert from University of Oxford and co-founder of Sleepio, for his thoughts…

Does poor sleep affect mental health?
Sleep and mental health are intimately linked. We all know that after a sleepless night we can feel a bit tired and irritable, but most of us can bounce back after a good night’s sleep. People who suffer from chronic sleep problems have more difficulty recognising and managing emotions, and are at double the risk of developing depression.

For those suffering from mental health issues, research shows that 90 per cent of adults with depression has insomnia. In trying to tackle this issue, treating sleep problems in people with depression and insomnia has led to better outcomes than treating depression alone.

What are the overall effects of poor sleep?
Sleep affects us on various levels – mentally, emotionally and physically – so when we have had no or insufficient sleep, we feel the consequences. Physically we will feel lethargic and drained, mentally we become slowed down with poorer concentration and memory, and emotionally we may become irritable and depressed, with bursts of hyperactivity.

In fact, sleep problems affect one in three of us in the UK at any one time, and about 10 per cent of the population on a chronic basis, with energy levels (60 per cent), mood (48 per cent), relationships with other people (35 per cent) and physical health (28 per cent) cited in the World Sleep Survey as the areas most impacted by poor sleep.

The preliminary information from the first World Sleep Survey also found that professionally, poor sleep is a productivity killer, as each full-time employee in the UK on average loses eight and a half work days every year due specifically to poor sleep. Respondents to the survey chose concentration (46 per cent), ability to complete work (38 per cent) and ability to stay awake during the day (27 per cent) as the three top issues affecting  their productivity after a night of poor sleep.

Employers are now also starting to wake up to the importance that sleep has in their employees’ lives, especially as multiple research has found that poor sleep is a key factor behind a large amount of workplace accidents each year. More companies are looking to offer their employees more than the standard subsidised gym membership or travel card. Helping to improve their sleep and thereby mental wellbeing is a critical part of this.

How are you finding Blue Monday? Tweet us @healthymag

 

For further information on Professor Colin Espie’s work, go to sleepio.com

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